Goodbye Old Friend

Remember my last post?

Less than 100 miles into my trip to Georgetown KY, my check engine light came on. To many people this is no big deal. But I don’t think I’ve ever had this light come on in my Jeep. So I decided to make a stop and see if I could get someone to at least run the code. A Ford Dealership told me it was “a generic transmission error, probably minor, just get to your destination and have someone look at it there.” So I did.

On Friday I took it to a local shop that said they could look at it “next week,” but I got them to tell me that it was a transmission clutch error and that my transmission fluid was low. So they refilled it and suddenly no light. So problem fixed. Monday I took it to an Aamco for a more thorough check on the error code, but they gave it a “clean bill of health,” which lasted for about 50 miles until the light came on again. So I drove it 700 more miles and dropped it at my local shop on the way home.

After a thorough inspection, my shop came back with a “rebuild or replace” diagnosis on the transmission. Now this suddenly created a dilemma… At what point is it no longer worth keeping and repairing an older vehicle – or – at what point is it more cost effective to get something new?

I’ll start with some background on this vehicle. I have had this 2004 Jeep Liberty since it was a baby – I drove it off the lot with only 12 miles on the odometer and dropped it at my shop for this inspection having just rolled over 247,000 miles. It goes without saying that we’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of miles together. In fact, we like it so much that the Kilted Wife also has a 2004 Jeep Liberty, although hers has a much more respectable 124,000 miles. So it goes without saying that we like them a lot, and also that we haven’t had a car payment in almost 9 years.

So without knowing what’s really wrong inside the transmission yet we’re looking at what could be up to $4000 in repairs for the transmission. If I’m going to put that much money into it, I’m going to want to keep it for a lot longer right? So what else is wrong with it? I have a busted lock actuator meaning I have to manually lock it ever time I leave it. I have two windows immobilized because of broken retaining clips that I didn’t want to replace (in the Liberty it requires replacing the whole regulator). The paint on the roof and hood are peeling so I would want to get it repainted before it starts rusting. The tailgate is crumpled in a bit from that time I was rear-ended and never did the repairs. I have a small tear in the driver’s seat and the door panel is starting to crack. Despite all these things, I still love this Jeep.

We have been considering the cost of all these potential repairs, and comparing it to the fact that we just replaced control arms and ball joints on the other Jeep. And we just can’t help but think that we could spend all this money and still have just about anything go wrong in another week (just FYI, the wife’s coolant reservoir cracked and had to be replaced this week). We have decided that we really need to have one vehicle that we can completely rely on (meaning one that isn’t 15 years old).

So, I’m afraid I have to say goodbye to my old friend. I’m sorry we won’t make it to 250,000 together.